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The filming of Hervey Allen's bestselling, 1,200 page novel, some of which was trimmed to comply with Hollywood's censorship requirements, was an enormous undertaking. Warner Bros. press material claims that the film contains 98 roles, with 78 speaking parts. Files in the Warner Bros. collection at USC reveal that Kitty Carlisle tested as Angela, J. Carrol Naish as Bonaparte, and Bette Davis as Faith. Daily Variety notes that Humphrey Bogart was also tested for the role of Napoleon. John Carradine was signed as Ferdinando, but when production problems delayed the filming of his part, he was released to honor a prior commitment. Producer Hal Wallis was interested in borrowing Freddie Bartholomew from M-G-M for the part of Anthony as a boy, and suggested Edward G. Robinson and Basil Rathbone for Don Luis. Studio files also indicate that the property was promised to director William Dieterle, who was bypassed for Harry Warner's son-in-law, Mervyn LeRoy. Milton Krims requested screen credit for his work on the screenplay, but it was denied by the studio. Edward Chodorov also made an uncredited contribution to the script. The African slave compound was constructed on the studio's backlot, occupying twelve acres.
According to modern sources, the film re-used the miniatures that Fred Jackman built for the Port Royal set in Captain Blood. The film was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture and won Academy Awards for Original Score, Cinematography, Editing and Supporting Actress. Sondergaard's award for Supporting Actress was the first ever awarded in that category, but efforts were made to remove her name from the credits for the 1948 re-release. of the film because she was married to Herbert Biberman, one of the blacklisted "Hollywood Ten." The film was named as one of the National Board of Review's top ten pictures and came in eighth in the Film Daily critics' poll. According to Motion Picture Herald, the staff of the theater at the world premiere in Los Angeles wore costumes of the Napoleanic era. The first night's gross at the theater was twenty percent more than any previous film in their twelve years of operation. Modern sources note that Olivia de Havilland's singing voice was dubbed by Diana Gaylen and that Howard Koch wrote the lyrics to "Angela's" song. According to modern sources Boris Nicholai, Marjorie Gateson, Alma Lloyd and Walter Kingsford were also in the cast. Modern sources place the budget at $1,050,500 with a shooting schedule of 72 days. Warner Bros. acquired the rights to Allen's novel for $40,000, modern sources note.